‘New Moses’ Is the Latest Sign of the Christian Right’s Trump Confusion

Trump used to be their unwitting agent of God. Now he’s a religious leader?

Blasphemy, sacrilege, or both? Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images
Blasphemy, sacrilege, or both? Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Back when he first captured the hearts of Republicans generally and conservative evangelicals specifically, it became fashionable for Christian Right leaders to compare Donald Trump to Cyrus the Great, the pagan Persian king who unwittingly served the will of God (according to the Hebrew Scriptures) by liberating the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity. It was a clever rationalization that enabled these holy warriors to dismiss all the evidence of Trump’s heathenish belief system and sinful behavior and make him God’s (and their) vehicle for the redemption of America. Being King Cyrus also relieved the 45th president from any inconvenient obligation to change his evil ways or beg for a forgiveness he explicitly didn’t think he needed.

After Trump thrilled many conservative Christian activists by stacking the Supreme Court in a way that produced the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the expansion of the “religious liberty” to discriminate against the wicked, some of his churchy fans began to view him not as a disposable instrument of God’s will — and thus as an replaceable ally — but as an indispensable leader of their cause. In part that’s because they have internalized his fury over the “stolen election” of 2020 and hence the necessity of a Trump comeback to prove the divine plan cannot be thwarted. Worse yet, some conservative Christians have conflated Trump’s struggle with the eternal struggle between the heavenly hosts and their demonic enemies.

We’re witnessing a pop-culture moment exemplifying this confusion of religious and secular conservatism. Actor Jim Caviezel, best known for his portrayal of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ, made it known on Fox News that he regarded Trump as “the new Moses.” He made this pronouncement while flogging his latest flick, Sound of Freedom, which, much like The Passion of the Christ, has become a counter-Hollywood phenomenon heavily promoted by ticket-buying churches and church organizations. As Rolling Stone’s Miles Klee explains in his review, the new movie is the perfect vehicle for Caviezel, who has been flirting with QAnon-ish conspiracy theories for a good while:

[Caviezel] has become a prominent figure on the conspiracist right, giving speeches and interviews in which he hints at an underground holy war between patriots and a sinister legion of evildoers who are harvesting the blood of children. It’s straight-up QAnon stuff, right down to his use of catchphrases like “The storm is upon us.” Here, he gets to act out some of that drama by playing a fictionalized version of Tim Ballard, head of the anti-sex trafficking nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), in a feature film that casts the operator as a Batman-style savior for kids sold into the sex trade.

Caviezel pulled Trump into his story by asserting that he’d be the leader who would “go after the traffickers.” And he also revealed that he had provided Trump with a private showing of Sound of Freedom at the former president’s Bedminster resort. Trump unsurprisingly responded with a Truth Social post vowing to administer the death penalty to human traffickers and blaming Joe Biden’s border policies for this terrible danger to children.

Now if you are a QAnon believer, this all fits together: America is controlled by the pedophile satanists of the Democratic Party. Trump will liberate their victims (presumably in chains awaiting their destruction by blood-drinking global cabalists) and with them their country. And the 45th president has never lifted a finger to disabuse these people of their dangerous and psychotic delusions.

But even among the uninitiated, the Trump-trafficking nexus can be seductive. Human trafficking has been a major preoccupation of conservative evangelicals in recent years, perhaps as an undeniably worthy target of those whose all-purpose sexual puritanism is no longer fashionable. So Trump’s identification of trafficking with lax Democratic policies and promises to save children resonate, making this cruel man a liberating “Moses” figure.

Before Trump and his conservative evangelical fans get too comfortable with this idea, they might want to read their Bibles (or in Trump’s case, have someone read to him from their Bibles) and recall Moses’s ultimate fate. After leading the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt, Moses was barred from entering the Promised Land because of his willful defiance of an edict from God. Instead a younger successor, Joshua, took over leadership of his people. Lord knows Trump is a willful defier of every godly law, and right now younger MAGA conservatives (e.g., the 44-year-old Ron DeSantis and the 37-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy) are bidding to succeed him. Maybe King Cyrus is a safer role model for the former president after all.

‘New Moses’ Is New Sign of Christian Right’s Trump Confusion